I love childhood. I love the richness and the simplicity of it. I believe that no greater happiness can be found than through seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Children trust. They have faith. They love without fear. They are in touch with their natural instincts to explore, to learn, to laugh and play, to get caught up in the moment and see nothing else, to see only perfection and be completely oblivious to imperfection, to make contact with nature, to indulge their active minds and ask questions… its no wonder Christ asked us to be like little children! The pace of childhood is so much slower than the pace the world is currently working at. We tend to insist our children keep up with this pace, and childhood is being lost in the process. Modern children, even those with all the conveniences and comforts of upper class living, are showing signs of post traumatic stress disorder… just from the chronic low-grade stresses of daily living. We’re seeing children suffering from what can only be described as nature deficit disorder. They are no longer allowed daily access to the outdoors and the time to become wrapped up in the natural world. I feel a strong need to preserve childhood, not only in my own children and in children throughout the world, but also in myself. I’m re-learning how to play. I’m re-learning how to slow down, forget my task list, and allow myself to become lost in the simple things. I no longer want to keep pace and I’m caring less and less about how clean my house is. On one hand, I do become anxious and depressed in clutter. But I also become anxious and depressed when I spend all of every day cleaning the same messes, only to have them show up again. I’m tired of telling my kids “just a minute” or “mommy can’t right now.” It seems that’s all they ever hear. My new resolve is that if I’ve got so much clutter I can’t keep up with it I need to remove whatever is causing the clutter from my life. I’m slowly donating, tossing, and collecting things for a yard sale. I’ve got quite a heap built up in the basement, and I can’t wait to see it go. I’m dreaming of living on land in Arizona, in an Earthship home, homeschooling my kids, allowing them space and time to explore and learn on their own. I’m constructing in my mind the life, that at the end, I want to have lived and making it a reality, bit by precious bit, every day. I want to be unrestricted. My life is about my happiness, and my family’s happiness. My children inspire me to emulate their examples, and find joy.
When I was about 17 years old, I wrote a poem about this very thing. Even then I wanted to remain pure, playful, and childlike. I saw that all the adults around me had lost this virtue. I’d like to share that poem with you.
I breathe in the gaze of the shadow
Of the silhouette of years
And speak, lonely, to nobody
In a voice I’ve yet to hear.
To remember still this day
An adoration of small bright eyes,
But mountains did not move by words
Assumed truths came time to realize.
But did I grow to fairness,
A wholesome merit mind?
Am I my highest priestess
To a fate I’ve yet to find?
Did I lose my heart in sorrow
Intention coward by towers of fear,
And stifle all the height I’d earned,
Reduced my sea to tear?
With likeness of I to prisoner
I seize these bars by hand,
Watch the ocean waters capture faith
To be swept to kelp as sand.
My own loss has hindered me,
In greatness of spirit I explore
The selfishness of despiration;
As to selfless past restore.
I miss my hands so soft
When I would often cry,
Would bring me not a pain to feast
Just subtle fruits to pacify.
But I have found my stranger
As I heave heard we will.
When numbers rise, our hopes will fall
Lost coats to bare in winter’s chill.
There still lives I with thoughts to share,
And I with words to speak,
There will be no mellowed need to give
Though hunger has slept meek.
So I have met maturity
Though willed it not, no doubt
But seek within my brightest cell
For the child I can survive; but cannot live without.
How do you find joy in life?
Are you living a life that reflects your values?